South Dakota Pro-Life Advocates May Craft Revised Abortion Ban

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 9, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

South Dakota Pro-Life Advocates May Craft Revised Abortion Ban Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
November 9
, 2006

Pierre, SD ( — South Dakota’s pro-life advocates are undeterred by Tuesday night’s election results showing 56 percent of voters rejecting a statewide abortion ban that would have prevented all abortions except those to save the mother’s life. Lawmakers have said they may move forward with a new ban that includes rape and incest exceptions.

During the debate on the abortion ban leading up to the vote, polls continued to show that the ban would lose at the ballot box by about 10 percentage points.

However, surveys repeatedly showed an overwhelming majority of state voters would support a ban if it had rape and incest exceptions.

Pro-life lawmakers such as Rep. Roger Hunt, who led the effort on this one, are already talking about crafting a new state abortion ban during the next legislative session. They point out that state voters sent pro-life state representatives and senators back to the legislature and re-elected pro-life Gov. Mike Rounds, who signed the abortion ban this spring.

”The field is wide open at this time as to what the Legislature is going to do,” Hunt said, hinting a revised ban could be in the works.

"I’ll support a move to start over on this," Republican state Sen. Bill Napoli told the Seattle Times newspaper and called the 56-44 vote against the ban a "moot point" because a second bill would have rape and incest exceptions.

He said the vote proved only that state voters want those exceptions to be part of a statewide abortion ban and pointed out that just a few of the 800 abortions done in the state each year are done for those reasons.

Though pro-life groups don’t support abortion for those cases, they may rally around such an abortion ban because more than 98 percent of all abortions in the state would still be prohibited.

Either way, Leslee Unruh, leader of the Vote Yes for Life group that promoted the abortion ban, doesn’t plan to give up.

”We’re not going away," she told the Associated Press.

She indicated that the abotion ban would have odne better had the governor supported it more and had it obtained the backing of national pro-life groups.

Organizations like National Right to Life and Americans United for Life did not support the timing of the abortion ban because they worried it would be overturned by the Supreme Court and further entrench the Roe v. Wade decision.

But abortion advocates say they are now organized and that a second abortion ban vote will be more difficult than the first.

”We energized a lot of people in South Dakota. Their job won’t be so easy,” Jan Nicolay, of the pro-abortion group opposing the ban, told AP.